, Volume 157, Issue 4, pp 779-789
Date: 17 Dec 2009

Determinants of reproductive potential and population size in open populations of Patella vulgata

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Abstract

The importance of external and internal population processes in determining variation in reproductive output and variation in population size were quantified with model simulations for open populations of the sequentially hermaphroditic limpet Patella vulgata using field data from the Isle of Man and South West Ireland. Cross-correlation analyses of model outputs and elasticity analyses show that population dynamics are dominated by the effects of large females, and that recruitment adds little to reproductive output. However, populations experiencing low but highly variable recruitment appear male limited and recruitment pulses carrying young males into the population are correlated to reproductive output with a 2–5-year lag. We conclude that pulses in recruitment can be a major structuring force in these limpet populations, but site-specific post-recruitment processes will determine the relative importance of recruitment to population dynamics and the lag between recruitment and reproductive output.